“And into the forest I must go, to lose my mind and find my soul” - John Muir
And so we did. In my previous post I touched upon the essence of travel, of liberating your heart and soul, and chasing experiences that enrich your life. Finding the right type of conflict, and musings in every day life that provoke your thoughts and encourage curiosity, and asking yourself your purpose, your place, in places that are too beautiful to imagine. Places that change your perspective on living, challenges that see you rise above your everyday existence. And, as we boarded BA flight 295 from Heathrow, we had a wealth of time to be spent in an organised, but adventurous fashion, and a large number of friends and loved ones to reunite with. What follows is our journey over two weeks of non stop craziness and the best version of “time well spent” I could ever think of.
Landing in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, after a brief stint of drama, involving a potentially lost phone and many a “it’s only a phone at the end of the day, but I hope we can find it” conversation, our first stop was a home away from home. A summer camp at which me, and many friends dedicated our time to during summer’s gone by. A place filled with memories, nostalgia and days that seemed to last forever, but the type you'd miss if you blinked. Summers you never wanted to end because of the friendship, the romance, the tension, the hours of hard work and good times you will never forget. A worthwhile stopping point to help YMCA Camp Edwards setup of for their summer ahead.
So after a brief stop, many great reunions, even more hugs and a lot of great conversation and some solid manual labour, our goal was to head west, venturing for a narrowed down choice of 4 National Parks. Two of which being old favourites, the 3rd and 4th being new, untrodden ground… for us.
1.Badlands’s National Park, South Dakota.
2.The Grand Teton’s National Park, Wyoming.
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
4. Glacier National Park, Montana.
Before I go on, a word on my travelling companions...
Alice Elizabeth Taylor - A woman with elegance and unparalleled beauty, and a fire for new challenges that makes me pretty certain that whatever her life endeavours are to be, she will succeed. The best kind of hiking, and adventure, and life companion.
Jacob Mohi - A guy who I consider one of my closest friends and a true brother. Ive known him for 5 years, worked with him, had many a hearty drink with him, and still, I know we’ve only just got started with the good times. Chill but hard working, loyal and comical beyond anyone else. The kind of guy you want at your wedding because of his unfailing friendship. Heres to a long, prosperous and totally manly bromance.
Dree Kinder - This girl, the type of person that will say exactly what needs to be said, and has a heart of pure gold at the same time. Adventurous, funny, straight to the point and loyal to a fault. Ive known her a while, and if theres anyone who will crave another adventure, it her.
Louis Neville - Having met this guy for the first time this trip, you immediately know he is an absolute legend. The best comedy out there, and a down to earth, fun, chill guy. Couldn't be more glad to have this guy on the trip.
Bryce Sydney - Bryce, Brown Rice, Absolute Hero. Take your pick. Many things to say about this guy, but to narrow it down to a few. He's a man of few words, but the words he does speak, they are every bit funny, interesting, and genuine. The kind of guy you just know has a good soul and would do anything for a friend, and expect nothing back.
Grand Is An Understatement… Because words just don't suffice.
Our first stop. South Dakota, Badlands National Park. After a brief stint, in a historic 1880’s Western Town, one beautiful evening, where we donned the finest western apparel and took many an historic looking photo, we continued onto The Badlands National Park. Making camp at The Cedar Pass Campground in the NP, we watched the sun set on our first day of Road Trip, with a beer in hand, and the best kind of company.
We woke the next morning, and after an extremely efficient pack up operation, we departed for the place that has filled up many a day dream, and stolen many a nostalgic thought over the last 2 years. The Grand Teton’s. When you've been driving the Wyoming highways all day, across its never-ending prairies and grassland’s, despite there historic and pure wild feel, you do start to feel a little weary. However, when you reach the foot hills of the mountains, and continue further west, to where the peak’s of the Teton’s stretch skyward, and hold your gaze with their snow capped jagged summits, you realise very quickly that the word “Grand”, is an understatement.
The joy of returning to this place after 2 years of other adventures, is a feeling that continues to linger even almost 2 weeks later. For 3 of my 6 travelling companion’s, as they set their eyes upon the range for the 1st time, I am filled with nothing but pure elation. We continue onto Jackson Hole, and drive through the picturesque Cowboy town, with its wooden walkway’s and historic square, its modern bars and mountaineering spirit, and onwards to The Snake River campground 15 minutes down the road. I will say this, after two days of continuous driving, the feeling of unpacking the car, lighting up a fire outside our cabin for the next 3 nights, cooking dinner and feeling full of anticipation for the days ahead in the mountains, ensures you have the deepest sleep at night.
The next 3 days were spent in an adventure frame of mind. Up at 5/6 every day, and to bed around midnight each evening,we truly squeezed out every ounce of time. Our first day focus was the Lupine Meadows, to Surprise Lake, and onto Amphitheater Lake, two beautiful Alpine Lakes nestled in between 4 peaks that loom above you, and at your 11,000ft altitude, are the kind that still make you feel you aren't that high above sea level. After some hard hiking through anywhere between 2-3ft of snow at the top, we relaxed at the lakes, then threw ourselves back down the mountain, to regain the defrosted trail further down. That evening was filled with food, beer and fire. The next day saw us venture out to Yellowstone, at 5 in the morning. We set off for the famous Historic site, made up of Geysers, Hot, Prismatic Springs, wolves, grizzly’s and Buffalo, and made a half day visit, seem like a week. We then flew back to The Grand Teton NP, and spent the evening on the Death Canyon trail head, and as the Sun set, we spent an hour in bliss, cliff jumping into Phelp’s Lake’s alpine snow melt-like temperatures. Nothing the New Zealand lads, “Red Lion” beer and a bottle of Yellowstone whiskey purchased by Brown Rice himself couldn't chase away. We then made the hike back up as a team, and settled for beers and dinner at a BBQ joint in Jackson Hole. Somewhere in the haze of that very evening, I was dubbed “Fabio of the f****** Teton’s” by two, extremely enthusiastic trivia night MC’s. New Instagram travel account handle? I think so! Possibly…
An Incomprehensible Beauty… And then you see it.
On the 3rd morning, we rose once more and started our drive north. Heading to a place we’d heard so much about, but had never had the chance to reach until this day. As we gazed upon the wide open landscapes, with its vast blue sky horizons, looming mountain and blue crystal lakes, each one of us realised just how small we truly are in a landscape that has no design, just raw power and natural beauty.
We had reached Montana.
In my short 24 years so far, I feel I have seen a fair few places dotted across a few continents. More then most I feel, however, there will always, be somewhere that takes your breath away once again. Glacier National Park was a diamond of this trip, which is saying something, considering the caliber of the locations we had visited so far. But truly there was something magnificent, rugged, and beautiful about this place. From our campground nestled in the mountains just 7 minutes from the National Park, to our eyes resting upon the 17 mile stretch of Lake McDonald on our first morning, a haze of purity, and an ambience of serenity lingered above every lake and mountain. Our short but worthwhile visit consisted of early rises, paddle boarding and kayaking on serene lakes, with Bald Eagles keeping watch and wheeling above, a group favourite hike to Avalanche Lake, a visit to Lake McDonald hunting and Visitors Lodge, and the most perfect sunset above that very lake, with the closest of friends. We shared many great laughs and many beers that evening, and it was a moment that will stay with the heart indefinitely. An honourable mention goes to The Night Owl and Backroom Restaurants in Columbia Falls, West Glacier. The service, the food, the atmosphere, after a long day of road tripping exceeded every expectation! If you ever visit, order the fried bread. You wont regret it!
Our road trip was coming to an end, and collectively we had a sense that no amount of time would be long enough in the places where heaven touches earth in all its wonder. We made the 2 day drive back to Wisconsin, and onwards to Chicago to visit our friend Slade and her Italian Stallion of a boyfriend for a solid night of reminiscences, BBQ, drinking and Chicago's finest bars.
One of the most hectic and jam packed trips I have ever had the pleasure of undergoing. Filled with friendship, hard work, hiking, camping, deep and thoughtful conversations, a little soul searching, and a little light hearted banter to equal it out, and of course, many a beer over a fire as night settled in after a day of finding reality in the mountains.
And I guess those 2 weeks of travel can be summed up in just a few lines. There is no replacement in life for the memories you make with your closest friends, whilst doing what you love most. These moments are precious, and are all part of your life story, they are the stories you will tell your family, your friends and future generations with the hope that they will one day visit the very same places. After all, thats why we travel, to enrich ourselves, and our numbered days. I will treasure the memories from this trip forever, no doubt about that. If I could offer one piece advice, I would do it in the form of this short quote from an anonymous source…
“There is no wifi in the forest, but its a promise you’ll find a better connection”
And I guess this is exactly what all this new music, which will falling upon your ears very soon is about. It about making that connection, giving people something honest. The stories of travel, of friends, and the feeling and inspiration that sinks deep into the heart and soul and will soundtrack your life. I truly believe in these new songs and the messages they hold. And as for the form they will take, it shall all be revealed very soon!
Thanks once again for reading guys, here’s to the next couple of months, and here’s to the results from our studio time reaching you all.